Comment: Presenting an acceptable Brazil to global investors, the president failed to mention measures he has taken that are already fuelling violence in indigenous lands
By Dinamam Tuxá
The first speech by president Jair Bolsonaro on an international stage, on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland causes immense concern to Brazil’s indigenous peoples.
When Bolsonaro said Brazil has used very little of its land for agriculture and livestock (an estimated 9% and 20% of the national territory respectively), the president repeats a narrative that overstates indigenous control of land that was central to his election campaign, which has fuelled an alarming increase in violence in the Amazon and other rural areas of Brazil.
In less than a month since the president took office, several indigenous territories have been invaded by thugs hoping to take possession of forests that are still standing because the nation’s indigenous peoples have prevented their destruction. Brazil’s indigenous peoples have been vital in combating the causes and consequences of climate change.
In his speech in Switzerland, Bolsonaro made clear that agribusiness and mining interests will be allowed to expand their boundaries.
What has not been said is that Bolsonaro has already removed staff and funding from the federal agencies responsible for the protection of the environment and for guaranteeing human rights in Brazil. He has weakened the ability of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) to do its job in advancing the demarcation and recognition of indigenous lands, and denied the agency a voice in the environmental licensing process required for any new projects introduced on indigenous lands, including some of the most remote and intact of the primary forests in the Amazon.
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